I personally met Mike soon after the backpack exchange and asked him if there was anything I could do for him. He said he was hungry and would accept food but not money because he didn’t want me to think he is “one of those.” He also said that he was very hungry. I would always see Mike talking to landscapers and movers when they were in the neighborhood. He was trying to see if they needed help so that he could earn some money.
Mike can be very lucid at times and on occasion not make any sense at all. I believe he is schizophrenic, which statistics show that one-third of the homeless population suffer with serious and untreated mental illness.
One thing that has always stood out to me is that even in his dire circumstance, Mike is always upbeat. My husband and I have taken him out to eat on several occasions and he is very articulate and a great conversationalist. We have befriended him and check on him daily.
It was late spring, early summer of this year when disappointingly we couldn’t find Mike. Months passed and my husband and I didn’t see him. Finally, after 3 months elapsed I spotted Mike and asked him where he had been. He told me he was hospitalized and diagnosed with late stage cancer. Visually I could see he lost a significant amount of weight and also noticed a large lump that extends from behind his left ear down to his neck. He now covers and hides the lump with a bandana. When I visit Mike, I can see that he is clearly suffering with an infection because he is no longer getting the medical attention he needs.
I believe everyone has the right to live or die with dignity. It is breaking my heart to think these may be his final days and he is spending them living on the streets. I pray every day that our world becomes a better place and I realize it’s up to us to change it.
I am asking everyone, including my friends, family and clients to please help. My goal is to get Mike into an apartment, where he will have shelter, food and hopefully I will be able to get him the necessary medical intervention he so badly needs.
- Ann McMenamin
- Mary Pietrzak
- Tiffany Midkiff
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